Fascinating stories from Sutton’s past as the borough turns 50

London Borough 21 ...  that was the bureaucrats’ rather unimaginative name for our borough. That was before Sutton took on its now-familiar name with the creation of the new London boroughs 50 years ago this month, on 1 April 1965.  

The London Borough of Sutton was established from an amalgamation of smaller authorities – the Boroughs of Beddington and Wallington, Carshalton Urban District and the Borough of Sutton and Cheam. 

The change was made under the London Local Government Act 1963 which established a new local government structure for the capital comprising 32 boroughs and the Corporation of the City of London.   

The naming of the new south-west London borough was a hotly debated topic in the lead up to its breakaway from Surrey to become part of Greater London.  

Names suggested - some more bizarre than others - included Sutton Carew, Carwalton, Fairlands, Wandletowns, South Wall-Car, and Treeswater.

Residents in Carshalton wanted the new borough to be named just that, while residents in Wallington were equally proud of their part of town.

Arguments were made that Sutton was too common a name – more than 111 places by the name already existed in Britain.

Jim McMahon, the Chairman of Carshalton Council, said: “I doubt very much that the council will take this lying down. We want the name Carshalton because it is the only place of that name in the country.”

Alderman Taylor, of Sutton and Cheam, commented: “I personally have no objection to Sutton Carew because it would be rather nice to have some agreement with the other authorities, though I must say it sounds a bit like ‘Dangerous Dan McGrew’. It just doesn’t sound right.”

Meanwhile, a mayor of the time had a different view about the difficult decision: “I think more people are upset at the loss of snob value in coming out of the county of Surrey into Greater London.”

With representatives from the three authorities unable to decide among themselves, eventually Sir Keith Joseph, the Minister for Housing and Local Government, opted for Sutton.

Liberal Democrat Leader of Sutton Council, Ruth Dombey, said:  “The Borough of Sutton is made of up diverse villages and communities and everyone is rightly proud of the area where they live and its distinctive character. We have always welcomed and celebrated this diversity and encouraged our six local committees to make their own decisions.

“But we're also proud of Sutton Borough's growing reputation as a great place to live, work and bring up a family. We have some of the best schools in the country, low crime, lots of lovely parks and a strong environmental record. Unemployment is low and a growing number of new businesses are moving into the borough and creating new jobs. We are ambitious for Sutton's future and its next 50 years."

The borough’s birthday will be celebrated with a display about the origins of the borough at the Europa Gallery in Sutton Central Library during April.  Visitors can see the original charters of the predecessor authorities and LBS.

Sutton Council is also asking local schools to take part in a logo competition by inviting students in years 6, 7 and 8 to design Sutton’s Golden Jubilee logo. Entries, produced on A3 paper, should be colourful and reflect the borough’s diversity. The number ‘50’ should be included on the logo.

The winning entry will be used to celebrate Sutton’s 50 years in local government and will feature on council emails and banners for the remainder of the year.

For more information, email [email protected]

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